Monday, 16 July 2012

Homogeneity in French riding - a GOOD thing!

In France, like most if not all sports, riding/equestrianism is organised at a national level, and teaching and standards are nationally organised. Like many english, I often find things "over-organised" here compared to the UK, which sometimes makes me wonder if the approach doesn't take all the individuality out of riding style and the fun too. However, what it does do is mean that you KNOW the standard of a rider according to their "official" level (or Galop - levels 1-7 at riding clubs, more in September). This is a good thing if you haven't ridden with somebody before. For example, this weekend there was a family from Normandy staying in the village, with their very bored, but horse-mad 12-year-old daughter. I invited her to come to the club with me to help me feed the horses, and because I knew her level I offered her a ride on la belle May, knowing that she would be able to manage her. Also, I found it really interesting that when she trotted, she did exactly the same as the kids at our club do - she held on to the mane with her inside hand and used her outside rein independently to control the speed and to keep the horse on the piste. I had never seen this technique in the UK (although I am very out of date) but seeing it used by somebody from a completely different region was cool, actually, and very reassuring. It means at the least that somebody trained by official riding teachers in France can ride at the correct level anywhere in France. So if they go pony trekking for example, they can immediately be given   an appropriate horse for their level and by this be able to enjoy themselves the most. Likewise if they move to a different region they don't need to spend time learning the ropes in a new kind of riding school, they can just continue advancing.

I approve. I am surprised by this as usually I like things to be as idiosyncratic as possible, but for me it works. 

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